Kristy Strauss says she checks on her late mother’s home on Hermosa Drive in northeast Bakersfield each day to get it ready to sell. But, on Sunday, she says she saw a woman run out of her house with a curtain rod. So, Strauss ran after her.
"I went to grab her to stop her, and she swung at me with a screwdriver,” Strauss says. “And, I yanked her down. And, as I yanked her down, she got me with a screwdriver in my thigh, right in here."
Strauss says the woman ran off. She noticed her refrigerator, dishwasher, microwave, closest doors, and a box of tiles were all gone. Outside, she says she saw a power cord from next door hooked to her home's outlet.
“I got into a tug of war with the power cord with the neighbor next door, and he was trying to bring the power cord back over to his property,” she says. “I told him the police were on their way and he let go of the cord."
When Sheriff's deputies got there, they say witnesses led them to the home next door on La Cresta Drive. They arrested 58-year-old Michael Brucker and 31-year-old Shannon Gamel. Strauss says neither were the burglars.
"At this point, we don't know if Brucker was involved in the burglary that occurred on Hermosa, that's still under investigation. But, he was in possession of stolen property from the home on Hermosa," says Ray Pruitt of the Kern County Sheriff's Department. “He presented some type of evidence of information to the deputies that shows he is a resident of the home on La Cresta.”
Gamel was arrested for an outstanding felony warrant unrelated to the burglary. The home on La Cresta is in foreclosure and set to be auctioned Tuesday. The auction website says it's vacant, but one person living in the home says he's a renter. That man and Strauss had a clash of words in the middle of the street Monday.
“I’m shocked. This is a beautiful, quiet neighborhood that has a very good Neighborhood Watch,” Strauss says. “Very scared up here now, it’s very terrifying. I’m trying to sell this property, and it’s going to be very difficult to get somebody to want to come in and buy a house when you got squatters and thieves living next door.”
PG&E says there is no electricity at the house. We called the home's last legal owners, Terry and Barbara Putnam, since Sunday and have not heard back from them.
Kern County Code Compliance says it received a complaint of trash, weeds, and open doors at the La Cresta home two weeks ago.
“We went out and found the weeds had been cut, the structure was secure, and there were people on the property that appeared to have belonged there, so we closed the case accordingly," says Chuck Lackey of Code Compliance.
Strauss says she has called Child Protective Services twice because she believes there are children living in the La Cresta home with no electricity.
Sheriff’s deputies found Strauss’ microwave inside the La Cresta home’s garage. Detectives say the burglary investigation is ongoing.